Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Waddington's Campaign Revisited

The original box art from 1971

The stylised map of Europe, divided into squares, that served as the battleground

Way back in the early days of this blog I wrote a series of posts about the Waddington's board game of Campaign. I mentioned that I first acquired a copy of this game for my twelfth birthday in 1972 - and I still have the same edition!

Basically Campaign is an abstract strategic level game based on the Napoleonic wars. I have played this game hundreds of times over the years and have, at various times, flirted with making an advanced version but, like so many of my good ideas, it withered on the vine so to speak.

I was recently approached by a gamer that had a copy of the game but not the rules and was keen to find out if I had a spare set. Well, I thought I had but after a lengthy search remembered that I had passed these on as the result of a similar request back in 2014. What I did have though, was a copy of the rules that I found on the net - I have been unable to find where though.

It occurred to me though that perhaps I should make these available because after all, two such requests in the last nine years would certainly warrant this....

So for those that are interested in the rules of this piece of board gaming history please see the below and enjoy. Or not.


"An exciting strategy game in which each player can become a Napoleon or a Wellington leading his army across Europe. Famous battles can be refought and alliances can be made and broken with this compelling game of military and political strategy." Stock No.417 Game suitable for older children (say 10 upwards) and adults. Two to four players.

Contents: Playing board made up of three sections of thick card joined together, each leaf 9.5"X19.25" (24.5X49 cm). Four sets of army pieces in red, white, blue and light green, comprising 1 General, 9 infantry and 9 cavalry units. 6 sets of 4 town cards of different colours, 4 alliance cards, 2 dice, 6 page rule book and a 4 page "The Years of Napoleon" guide. Still on sale in 1977 cost £5.50.

The game does not correspond with a particular battle but is inspired by the Napoleonic wars and the game can be won either by the outright defeat of your opponent or (more likely) by acquiring towns controlling large areas of territory. The board is a representation of Europe and western Russia and is divided into six areas of roughly equal size representing France, Prussia, Russia, Austria, Italy and Spain. Each country has four provincial towns and five of the countries used as starting countries also have a capital city. Parts of the board, particularly the central area have areas of impenetrable mountains, forests and sea which restricts the movement of the troops. The game can be played in an introductory version and then with additional rules as a standard game. Depending on the number of players each player selects a county or if two players two countries but France and Prussia cannot be used at the same time. The two dice are always thrown together and are only used to move the pieces and are never used to determine the outcome of the attack. The throw can be used all on one piece or many pieces. The full throw does not have to be used. The pieces are placed in a set format on the country selected with the General on the capital square and four infantry and four cavalry. Each player has the five town cards of his own country.

The pieces move in set ways. The General moves one square in any direction. When it attacks it has a value of one and when defending a value of two. The General is the only piece that can capture a town by simply moving onto it. Cavalry has to move two squares at a time and must move horizontally or vertically never diagonally. Infantry move one square and only diagonally. Pieces cannot pass through opposing lines unless there is a clear gap of at least one square. Infantry and Generals can pass between adjacent units of their own side. A piece is attacked and taken and removed from the board when superior pieces (two for Infantry and Cavalry and three for a General) are positioned on adjacent squares (not moved to the opponents position). Also pieces can only attack along a line in which they are allowed to move. Only one piece can be attacked in a turn and the player has to say which piece he is attacking before the move is made. You have to think carefully about which pieces you are using with each other. You will find that it is important to bear in mind that infantry pieces start on adjacent squares and can never move to a adjacent horizontal square and can only move diagonally. The same applies to cavalry it cannot move to an adjacent horizontal square. Therefore to be able to attack an opponent you either need two cavalry pieces that can move to the same square, two infantry pieces that can move to the same square or an infantry piece and a cavalry that can move to adjacent squares. The General can move to any square and can therefore be used to attack with any other piece. If you have just infantry and cavalry you can find out frustratingly that you have two pieces that cannot be used together. It is also good strategy to try to capture pieces that can attack together. If a General is captured he has to move back to his starting position and has to miss a turn but he may not be attacked again until after this second turn. Consequently you try to avoid having your General captured at all costs.

When a General captures a town the corresponding town card is claimed from the other player. A capital can only be captured after the provincial towns have been captured. Where more than two players are playing you can agree to ally with another player and exchange alliance cards. An ally cannot cross into his ally's territory without his consent. Alliances can though be broken simply by breaking the alliance during one turn and then attacking the next turn giving the former ally one turn to re-deploy. The game is won if the player captures all his opponents capitals or captures 8 towns of any colour but not including the 4 in his own country. You also win if your opponents General is left with no troops.

The rules for the standard game have additional rules as follows: Towns are red towns or yellow towns, when a player captures a red town at the end of the turn he claims the town card and the piece shown on the town and places this piece adjacent to the town. The player who lost the town also has to remove the piece of the same type that is closest to that town. In the standard game a piece being attacked is supported by any other pieces adjacent to it. Therefore a closely grouped force can be very difficult to attack as you need to attack a piece with two other pieces and have one piece able to attack and neutralise any adjacent pieces. The standard game also makes it even move important not to let your General be captured as it has to return to an enlistment area with all his troops. He can though recruit some additional troops depending on the number of red town cards he holds to compensate for the fact that all his red towns will be venerable. The player then has to mobilise his troops by using the next few turns to move on to the capital city area.

Campaign is basically a pure strategy game. It you are in a position to attack a piece you will take it. However, there is some luck depending on how high a movement throw you have. Sonia and I have enjoyed many games of Campaign but have not played it with more that two players. It does though work well with two. It can though be frustrating if your attack force becomes incompatible but you really need to use the General in attacks for the maximum effect. However, it is quite a disaster if you let your General be captured. The game can take a couple of hours to play and is usually resolved by a player obtaining the required number of towns. Sometimes the game can also be frustrating as it is difficult to retain towns and you can have the situation of a General taking a chance and moving quickly from red town to red town with another piece retaking towns. The box, cards and board are very colourful the pieces fairly abstract."

It is safe to say that the game itself is not a detailed simulation of warfare in the age of Napoleon but it does feature some subtle concepts. Using the dice for movement means that moves have to carefully considered as large forces will move slowly but are harder to defeat whilst small, fast-hitting groups are vulnerable to counter attack.

It is one of my favourite games and certainly had an influential part in my wargames career and for the choice of period I was first going to fight - the Napoleonic Wars.


Prince Lupus said...

Thanks for that, loved this game in my teens, but sadly long gone. Had Game of Thrones Risk last Christmas, times change.

David Crook said...

Hi Prince Lupus,

You can still pick copies of Campaign up relatively cheaply - I have seen these at boot sales for usually a fiver or less. It is a great game to play with four players.

I used to play Risk but tend to view it these days as a source of gaming material - especially figures - and again, I often see various versions at boot sales. My recent blog post about Risk: Europe (the Medieval edition) being a case in point.

All the best,


david in suffolk said...

This is a lovely bit of nostalgia; I too had Campaign, and played it to death, mostly solo, as a child. I must have tweaked the rules to allow defeated armies to be pressed into service by their conquerors, with the result that Spain ( of all countries! ) overran Europe at least once.. All I have left of it is a pair of battered dice, which I wouldn't part with. Maybe I will have to track down a set..

David Crook said...

Hi david in suffolk,

My Campaign heyday was when I was on the Isle of Sheppey and amongst my small gaming circle we must have played this four players hundreds of times.

You can find sets easily enough on Ebay and it is not expensive. I prefer the original version to the later editions as the map and box art are far nicer. There are also some advanced rules you can download from boardgamegeek which are interesting.

All the best,